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Pope names new Swiss Guard commandant

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen a Swiss police commander to lead the Vatican's elite Swiss Guards, the Swiss Bishops Conference has announced.

This content was published on August 19, 2008 - 14:53

Daniel Anrig, who has a law degree, is currently head of police in canton Glarus in central Switzerland. He will take over from Commandant Elmar Mäder in December.

The Swiss Guards with their colourful antiquated uniforms have been serving pontiffs for more than 500 years. The 1998 killing of a guard commander and his wife in a Vatican City apartment tarnished the guards' image for a time.

The male guards number about 110 and must be Swiss Catholics. They stand guard at papal ceremonies as well as help to protect the pope. Vatican and Italian police also protect the pontiff.

The 36-year-old new commandant is married to a theologian and has four children. He earlier headed Glarus' criminal police force, and served as a Swiss Guard in the early 1990s.

Debate has been revived in recent years over whether the pontiff needs more protection during public appearances. Last year, a German man jumped a security barrier in St Peter's Square at a crowded general audience with the pope.

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